Vatican II's famous declaration that "the church on earth is by its very nature missionary" has often been taken out of context and used to support all manner of church initiatives. But, the conclusion of the statement—"since . . . it has its origin in the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit"—is of monumental importance.
In The Way of Discipleship, theologian Anthony Gittins describes the eternal mission of the Trinity, historically brought "down to earth" in the ministry of Jesus, and then continued to the ends of the earth by those called and sent as disciples throughout future generations. Gittins explains that Christian discipleship must be the living out of Jesus' own example in many different times and places. He encourages people of all ages to follow the invitation of Jesus to be missionary disciples.
The Way of Discipleship explores several New Testament examples of Jesus' call and commissioning, distills the principles involved, and then recontextualizes the stories so that they pose a direct challenge to disciples today. In this way, Gittins builds up a picture both of "the Way" of Jesus himself, and of the way today's disciples can loyally follow his call to mission.
Anthony J. Gittins, CSSp, taught theology and anthropology at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago from 1984 until 2011 and is now emeritus professor of theology and culture. He continues to do consultancy work and offer workshops, seminars, short courses, and retreats in more than thirty-five countries from Africa to the Pacific. He is the author of fifteen books on theological and anthropological topics, on mission, and on spirituality including Living Mission Interculturally: Faith, Culture, and the Renewal of Praxis, published by Liturgical Press.